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How to Get to 'Shalom Sesame'

7 Mar, 2006 By: Brendan Howard

There's something about the “Sesame Street” that brings 'em in. That something apparently translates into Hebrew, too, for SISU Home Entertainment's “Shalom Sesame.”

“I remember my first VSDA show, about 13 years ago,” reminisced Haim Scheininger, president of “Shalom Sesame” distributor SISU. “We had a table at the entrance, no booth. I put up the ‘Shalom Sesame' poster behind us. Even non-Jews, when they see Bert and Ernie and some Hebrew letters, they get excited. I got a buyer from Blockbuster from that one time.”

“Shalom Sesame” was designed by the nonprofit Sesame Workshop to teach Jewish-American kids — or any kids ages 3 to 12 — about Israel, Jewish holidays and the Hebrew language. The 11-program series took a cue from its U.S. counterpart and featured Bert, Ernie and other “Sesame Street” muppets, as well as such guests as classical musician Itzhak Perlman, Joan Rivers, Jerry Stiller, Mandy Patinkin, B.B. King, Mary Tyler Moore and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Main segments were shot in Israel in 1988 and 1991, and “Sesame Street” segments were incorporated, part in Hebrew and part in English.

The set sold almost 500,000 copies on VHS. The recently released five-DVD set ($99.95, or separately at $19.95 each) includes the entire series.

Scheininger is especially happy that the 14- to 20-page educational booklets produced for the series are included on the discs as printable documents. The booklets couldn't come with the VHS tapes because of shelf-space concerns.

On the heels of a successful mail-order campaign for the series, Scheininger is gearing up for big sales of the series for Passover in April.

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